Breaking through

The problem I have found with giving up dieting is that I need something to happen quickly and I have realised I have to wait, to go through some sort of barrier in my thinking that I am not going to go back to dieting, detoxing, eating plans etc., anything that is a restricted eating plan under any sort of name. When I think, even in the very back recesses of my mind, that at some stage I shall be forced to go back to restricting myself I am giving myself permission to eat too much, eat all those banned foods whilst I still can, before the famine comes. If I accept that the famine is never going to happen I can relax more about what I am eating, and why I am eating, rather than panicking. The problem is for me, and many people who have been on this hideous weight loss treadmill for so long, is that I find it hard to believe that I will ever get to a point when I can eat like a normal person: a day of anything resembling normal eating is swiftly followed by a day of congratulatory eating: wow you were good yesterday, you deserve that bar of chocolate, bag of crisps etc. Are you hungry? Who cares!

It’s only food, it’s only fuel, so it needs to be put back in its cage, it needs its power taken away from it and then, maybe, I can silence those negative voices. It’s so, so difficult: it feels like a struggle, an ongoing struggle, and I suppose I need to see some sort of light, some indication that I am doing things right, that I will end up succeeding but it’s so hard for me to trust, ignore the irritating voices. I need to keep going but it’s very, very hard.

Am I sitting comfortably?

I realised this morning (I seem to do a lot of realising, don’t I?) that one of the reasons that I am so aware of my body is I am constantly thinking about how my clothes feel. Like I said before I feel like I am very, very slowly moving towards how I want to be with food, with some setbacks and some giant steps forward, but I am struggling with the process. I am still wearing the clothes I have in my cupboard and every time I put something on I am considering how it felt last time I wore it, whether it “makes” me look fat and those spiral thoughts start again. I suppose I am using clothes instead of the bathroom scales to monitor my body.

SO I have decided to only wear stuff in my cupboard in which I feel comfortable and make me feel good. Of course that might mean that the same stuff keeps getting recycled but I don’t need to add another negative input. If I feel good and comfortable I have more energy to shout down the internal negative voices, dragging me down. So I am going to pack up stuff that isn’t working at the moment, put it away and see how I feel about it in 6 months time. I think that will take away some of the pressures that I feel that this has to work and it has to work now!

I’ve always liked presenting myself well so I want a cupboard full of clothes I like and feel good in. I love a good rummage in a charity shop so will look around if I need anything else to get me through. I feel better.

Step back and recap

I’m feeling a bit more sane about things today! Yesterday was a bad day, a day when I was going to end up as a woman mountain, where I was out of control, well, at least my thinking was out of control. Today I feel better, a bit more normal and a bit more reasonable.

I realised that I was panicking about the whole body/diet thing, that without my daily weighing in (and my mood adjusting accordingly) I felt rudderless. Today I realise that I am doing ok, I am on a road and I will keep going until I get to where I need to be. I need to take a step back from my feelings of being out of control, look at what I was actually doing, remember why I started all this and give myself a good slap (figuratively, of course). So I have summarised my thoughts on all this:

1 I am never going on a diet again, I am not going to starve myself, eat in a strange way, in an attempt to be a size I am not meant to be. All that has stopped;

2 Where I am now I need to be aware of what I am eating and drinking. This creates a bit of a problem because thinking about food is the last thing I want to do because it makes me think I might be hungry and then eat something but at this stage I need to be aware. I am not ready to eat like a “normal” person but I am working towards it;

3 I am fine the way I am: I am perfectly imperfect. I have my own hang-ups and I need to be aware of how much these affect my thinking;

4 I don’t eat huge amounts. When I see diet stories (yes, I still read them, maybe that should stop?) people talk about eating enormous meals, lots of snacks etc but I don’t do that. I normally eat two meals a day, plus a snack or two, one of which is normally fruit. Secret eaters wouldn’t find me very interesting but I do eat when I am bored, become aware of food and I do eat more than I need;

5 I am going to eat less: not in a “on a diet” way but rather just being aware and leaving a mouthful on every plate, re-training my brain that I don’t need to finish it all. I am also going to take a step back when I think I am hungry and tell myself to wait 20 minutes to see if I really need any food. I have done this a few times and end up not eating but I need to persevere. I have put a large question mark on the fridge just to remind myself to stop and think.

I don’t want this to go back into a disordered way of eating but I do need to think about what I am doing and why I am doing it. Time to take stock.

Am I coping?

When I’m feeling unhappy about me (my weight, dress size, my stomach, what people are saying about me) I think that buying some new clothes will help sort it out. Somewhere out there is that fantastic dress that will make me look two sizes smaller, have people asking me if I have lost weight, something magical that will make me feel better about myself. I have this idea in my head as to what I am going to look like and sadly even after finding a dress that matches my dream the results in the mirror don’t match up to my expectations. I didn’t like what I saw beforehand so putting a different wrapping on it isn’t helping.

I read an article the other day about accepting your body: this doesn’t mean loving it but merely realising the usefulness of parts of it and, I suppose, adopting a neutral tone when examining yourself. That would work for me if I couldn’t get to the point of loving myself but even that seems a step too far. Every mirror has to reflect back my flaws, my eyes instantly drawn to the bits of me I don’t like, can’t see the use of, and yet I am so, so sick of living like this with these tedious thoughts never far from my mind. And I hate how these thoughts have such a huge impact on my enjoyment of life. It’s stupid, pointless, ridiculous etc etc and yet I can’t seem to stop.

This morning I decided to try on my jeans: they fitted. They are tight but they were tight last time I wore them. What do the negative voices do? They keep telling me I am getting fatter (I was tempted for a fleeting moment to step on the bathroom scales – what a self-defeating catastrophe that could have been) even though the evidence didn’t back that up. Am I a less valuable human being if the scales reflect a higher number than they used to? The trouble is I think I am and I’ve got to keep working at changing that.

The shame of it….

We had a lovely family day yesterday: a birthday meal, plenty to eat and drink, lots of laughter, a really lovely day. I went to bed feeling blessed and happy. And then I had a horrible dream: the only bit of it I remember clearly is being told I had put on a lot of weight. I woke up feeling awful, and then sad that this obsession I have with my body, my eating, my weight, could impact on me so strongly and spoil the end of a lovely weekend.

The primary feeling I had was shame or embarassment. Perhaps the idea that I could enjoy a family day without monitoring all I was eating and drinking was too much for my subconscious, perhaps it was trying to inflict my old ways of thinking back on me? I sat and thought about it, remembering I hadn’t actually eaten that much so why were these negative voices so strong? And even if I had eaten more than normal why did it matter that much? We don’t do this every day, every week or even every month so one day wouldn’t have a huge impact. It just all seems so pointless and negative.

I don’t want the focus of my life to be on this, I want food to be simply fuel but it seems like parts of me are fighting back and I hated the feeling of shame, the idea of someone really hitting me where it hurts: the way I look and the way I feel about the way I look. I imagine every mouthful causing my hips to expand and I am fighting this really hard, talking to myself with the kindess I use with other people, but it is still fighting back. I still look at photos of friends from school to see if they are bigger or smaller than me: what a sad way to judge the world and the people in it. I realise the fight has just begun just when I was hoping it was getting nearer the end!

I’m ok

I’ve been reading about shame and a lot of what I read focusses on body image, how we see ourselves, and beat ourselves up because we don’t measure up to the perfect images in the media. The messages are (and always have been the same): it’s not the images, the body shapes and sizes they portray, that are wrong, it’s us that are wrong for not fitting into that image. Now if we’d only spend money on the latest diet book, follow the latest trend, we could look like those impossible airbrushed images and it’s only down to our laziness or greed that we are not able to do that.

Now as a woman who has spent her whole life living with a message of what is missing in my life I find this ridiculous but, of course, ridiculous for everyone else rather than me. I could spend the rest of my life beating myself up, wondering why I don’t look like Helen Mirren in a bikini but this is just repeating my go-to message: there is something wrong with me. But what happens if I throw out that message, what happens if I focus on all the things I am rather than all the things that I am not? I know it’s easier said etc but I have do something different, more sensible than I have been doing so far. I don’t want to just ignore the bits I like, but rather focus on what is good, what I like, I want to give up my focus on the negative which seems to impact on virtually, no, come to think of it, it impacts on every part of my life: me, my children, my partner, my home, my work etc etc It needs to stop, I need to stop, enough.

So I am perfectly imperfect: I am good enough, I fit just right in this world, and won’t hear anything else.

Make it stop!

Today I am bad tempered. Why am I bad tempered? Because I feel fat. I look at myself in the mirror and don’t like what I see: I don’t see the “good” bits, I just see the fat, the letting-go, the things that make me lesser than. Usually these feelings would make me start on another diet, another restricted eating plan, another trying-on of the jeans with a promise to make them a bit looser, look better, to make myself feel better. So much of my self worth is tied up with how I think I look. I imagine people judging me: people who haven’t seen me for a while thinking about the weight I have gained, feeling sad and ignored, and yet I know so much of this is inside my head.

Through the years I have lost (and gained) a lot of weight: the times I was slim seem to have passed in a flash and I was soon back in those comfortable clothes, long tops, trying to disguise what I see as my failure, hiding the evidence from all those people that I knew were judging me. But did I know it.

Now I am certain I can’t spend the rest of my life punishing myself, restricting what I eat, focussing on how many calories or carbs I have eaten that day, rewarding myself for being “good” and beating myself up for every lapse. A self-imposed life sentence of misery and yet the journey to learning to eat normally, to using food simply as fuel, is tortuous, every turn provides a new challenge, a new uncertainty. I keep going but I doubt myself every step of the way and wonder what those behind me are saying about my body.